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New Interchange on I-575 Under Way in Cherokee County

Thu July 07, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has awarded a design/build contract worth $18.1 million for the construction of a new interchange on I-575 at Ridgewalk Parkway to contractor C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc., Marietta, Ga., and transportation consultants, The LPA Group, headquartered in Columbia, S.C. It has been more than four months since construction began on the interchange, and work is progressing smoothly with about 20 percent of the project completed. Completion is scheduled for the end of December 2012.

The contract includes construction of a new, full diamond-shaped interchange on I-575 at Ridgewalk Parkway in Woodstock, Ga., which is located within Cherokee County. The project, measuring approximately 1.76 mi. (2.8 km), includes the replacement of the existing bridge over I-575 and calls for the realignment of Rope Mill Road which will allow it to intersect with Ridgewalk Parkway and accommodate the ramps of the new interchange. There also will be auxiliary lanes constructed between the new interchange and the Towne Lake interchange. The goal of the project is to provide better access to I-575 as well as to improve the safety and the flow of traffic on the Interstate.

“This new interchange will improve access to I-575 in that part of Cherokee County, as it continues to grow and develop,” said GDOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith Jr., at the announcement of the contract. He also stated that it will “enhance the mobility of Cherokee County’s residents and contribute to all the area residents’ quality of life.”

At the beginning of the project, work consisted of the installation of orange barrier fences and erosion control systems. Also completed by C.W. Matthews in February 2011 was the installation of a large concrete culvert which will carry a stream underneath the relocated Rope Mill Road. During March 2011 the contractor continued to work on the relocation of Rope Mill Road and construction of all four ramps. Also, clearing, grading and earthwork continue throughout the early stages.

Another feature of the project that is currently underway is the construction of the sound barrier wall which is of metal construction and will sit above a concrete side barrier. The sound wall with side barrier are located immediately adjacent to the 12-ft. (3.6 m) shoulder of the interstate and have a combined height, on average, of approximately 14 ft. (4.3 m).

According to Tal Harber, capital projects manager, Public Works Department, city of Woodstock, “The sound barrier starts approximately 300 feet south of Ridgewalk Parkway and extends about 5,000 feet south along the shoulder of the interstate all the way down to approximately 400 feet north of Towne Lake Parkway.”

Construction of this wall will take about six months. The contractor is using a Cat 321C LCR excavator to assist with installation of the borings and concrete piers for the sound barrier wall.

In April, construction began on an MSE/retaining wall located uphill of the Deer Run play field. This wall is essential to the completion of several other aspects of the project.

“This wall must be constructed before the southbound entrance ramp can be completed, must also be in place for the sound barrier wall to proceed through the area once it reaches this point, and it must be built to complete the project beside the play field,” Harber elaborated.

Also included in the contract is a new overpass bridge that will be constructed parallel and on the same location as the one it will replace. The structure will be a traditional concrete girder bridge with two spans and a concrete deck. The north span will be built first then traffic will be transferred to it so that the old span can be removed. The same process will occur with the second span. The contractor plans on bringing in 100 to 110-ton (90 to 99 t) cranes for pile driving and erecting girders during construction of the bridge.

The earthmoving on this project will total roughly 300,000 cu. yds. (228,000 cu m). Dirt has been hauled from the east side of I-575 to the west side to be used for fill and construction of the southbound entrance ramp.

“This site was planned and permitted by C.W. Matthews as a dirt borrow site,” explained Harber, “since this project was ’dirt poor’ for all of the necessary filling for the project.”

It is estimated that 50,000 cu. yds. (38,000 cu m) of dirt had to be brought in to the project site from the borrow site. Once the project is finished, the borrow site will be re-stabilized and vegetated. A few of the many pieces of equipment on hand for earthmoving include a Komatsu PC400 LC crawler excavator, a Komatsu 250 loader, a Cat D4 dozer, a Komatsu dozer, and some Cat 740 articulated dump trucks.

As of the end of June, the contractor continues to make progress on the project. The sound barrier wall piers have been installed about halfway to the northern end of the wall. Construction of the wall itself is expected to begin soon. The fill and grading process for the northbound entrance ramp continue. Lastly, graded aggregate base surface has been placed on Rope Mill Road; this will minimize soil erosion and provide a better driving surface for the remainder of the construction.

Harber’s employer, the city of Woodstock, sponsors the project but does not provide construction or management services. He describes the city’s role as an “advocate” helping out with issues such as right-of-way acquisitions and providing engineering and design guidance. As a result, he has worked closely with C.W. Matthews.

“We are proud to have them as a contractor on this project,” Harber said. “They have been very accommodating.” CEG

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